Pat Fiacco working towards Reconciliation is a life-long journey
- Kerry Benjoe
Pat Fiacco, Regina’s former mayor, has been walking the road towards Reconciliation for decades.
His journey began as a youth growing up in Regina’s Cathedral neighbourhood, where many of his friends and classmates were Indigenous.
Over the years, his circle of Indigenous friends has increased.
During his career in municipal politics, he worked to build positive relations with Indigenous people.
“As the mayor of the city, I had an obligation to ensure that there was full inclusion of Indigenous peoples whether it was at City Hall, in regards to the workforce, but also in general,” Fiacco told Eagle Feather earlier this year. “I took the initiative to go out and visit almost all the bands in Treaty 4 and spent time with chief and council and Elders, for the most part, and the community.”
Fiacco served four consecutive terms as Regina’s mayor before announcing he would not seek a fifth term in 2012.
However while he was the mayor, Regina led the nation in a number of firsts.
In June 2007, the City of Regina was the first municipality to proclaim June as National Aboriginal History Month, which is now known as National Indigenous History Month.
Other provinces followed suit and, in June 2009, it became recognized at the federal level and National Indigenous History Month became official.
In August 2010, the brass sculpture of Chief Payepot, a signatory of Treaty 4, was unveiled at City Hall as part of the 135th anniversary of the Treaty signing. Piapot First Nation is the closest First Nation community to Regina, with many choosing to call Regina home.
Another first was the installation of the Treaty 4 Flag in the City of Regina courtyard.
On October 11, 2011, Fiacco and his councillors made history when they raised the flag alongside the Regina, Saskatchewan and Canada flags. Not long afterwards the city raised the Mètis flag as well.
Other municipalities have followed suit and it’s become increasingly more common to see Indigenous flags in urban settings.
The establishment of urban reserves also flourished under Fiacco’s leadership. The first urban reserve was established in 1990 by Nekaneet First Nation in the industrial area.
In 2008, the Piapot Cree Nation established an urban reserve in North Central. Since then, others have been established within the city limits with more in the works.
Fiacco’s relationship with Indigenous people did not end once he left office, but instead expanded. By 2015, he joined Four Horse Developments, which is the economic branch of Zagime Anishnabek Nation, and was instrumental in helping the First Nation establish its business hub on the city’s west side.
He established Fiacco and Company Management Group and works with First Nations and Indigenous organizations.
Currently, Fiacco is working with Carbon RX and with First Nations, so they can participate in the carbon capture market.
Although his work predates the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, he is a strong advocate of Action 92 which states,
“We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.”